The Ticketing Fiasco, We Can’t Shake It Off.
Ticket sale frenzies have been around since the beginning of time, traced back to chariot races. Hold on. "Beginning of time?" "chariots? Let's establish right up front that I'm no expert on ticket history. But what I do know is that today's system is broken.
Update 27/6/23: This article was originally published on LinkedIn on November 22, 2022 in the aftermath of Taylor Swift’s USA tickets being released. Now that they’re releasing in Australia, we’re seeing more of the same. In the exclusive pre-release of Tickets in Australia we saw the site crash for 20+ minutes, fans frustrated, and an artist unable to ensure her real fans were prioritized—through no fault of her own. We’re predicting more pain as the general release goes on sale within the next couple of hours.
Swifties were recently left out in the cold as they swarmed on Ticketmaster site to get their hands on the hottest tickets. Bots, site load issues, errors and committed dads refreshing their work email for a Taylor Swift presale code were common occurrences as the tech couldn't manage the demand. It left true fans outraged, wondering why, in 2022, technology can't handle this.
Well, managing 3.5bn requests and a VIP list of 3.5m is no mean feat. Imagine all of LA trying to get access to tickets at the one time. It's a feeding frenzy. But high heat ticket sales are nothing new. The Glastonbury site crashed ago due to high demand. Not dissimilar to how One Direction ticket sales crashed the internet in 2014, yes…..8 years ago, yet we are still here.
The general answer to this is not a new concept and something event organizers today are very familiar with; Crowd management.
Reward real fans first. Cause baby, now we got bad blood.
Yes, there was a list of 3.5m VIPs who all received presales codes. But within this list, there are smaller segments who deserve to get their hands on tickets first.
Taylor Swift first posted on her Facebook channel on June 29th 2011. 26K fans liked that post. Her first Instagram post was on August 21st 2017. It was a picture of a terrifying snake. Thousands of fans liked that post too. These are signals of true fan-ism.
It’s examples like this, where true fans can be identified. Wash this data across those fans who want tickets today so you have a clear view of who is trying to get access.
These fans should be given access first. Then, move down the fan list by analyzing more signals. Now you can break the 3.5M VIP list into smaller fan groups. Give these smaller segments early access, one by one. That way, you not only control the crowd flow of the VIPs, but you won't have bad blood with your most faithful fans.
I Knew You Were Trouble When You dropped 52 events at once.
Taylor Swift came out and said, "I'm not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand we were assured they could"
They sold over 2 million tickets to Swift's 52-date stadium tour, a record for most ticket sales for one artist in a day. But it's not a record worth breaking. Dropping 52 concerts is asking for trouble. It's like dropping a year's worth of Jordan sneaker releases in one day. Her shows start in March and go through until August. Why create a feeding frenzy when you don’t have to.
Drop events in batches, release those dates it bursts, flatten the traffic spikes so you avoid site load issues and give fans the experience they deserve. You also give fans a second and third chance to get their hands on tickets in another city if they miss out on their home city.
Resale hits 20K a pop (That's not a Taylor Swift song, I couldn't find one that worked here)
With every in-demand launch, you have a lucrative resale opportunity. What makes this feel remarkably unfair is the sky-high resale prices. $22,500 is what you'll pay to see Taylor from the front row at Gillette Stadium in suburban Boston, and the "cheap" seats are $675.
Does the artist make a clip on the resale? Absolutely not. Should they? We think so, but that's a story for another time. Is it fair for a true fan to miss out on the The Era’s tour tickets because of a poor checkout experience, and then pay the equivalent of their annual college tuition just to see their beloved Tay Tay? No.
You can't stop resale, you should however do everything you can to get tickets into the hands of real fans first.
Look What You Made Us Do (I'm back!)
I just wanted to use another Taylor Swift song title. Relevant? It's a stretch. But it got us asking ourselves if we could've done better. We've run over 3,500 launches of high-heat products for some of the world's largest brands.
Could we handle the traffic volume? If the sales were sequenced sensibly. Yes.
Could we get tickets into the hands of real fans first and make them feel special? Yes.
Does ticketing need to be turned on its head, and could we help with this? Absolutely.
Taylor, we don't intend to do any Vigilante Sh*t (another one!), but reach out, and let's work on making this right for Swifties, and for the ticketing industry.